3 steps to discovering what exercises will work best for you.

This is a great question, as when we’re starting out along our exercise journey, there isn’t really an answer available. We all want to know what would work best for us, to bypass wasting precious time doing things that aren’t really going to help us achieve the goals we want.

In saying this, I will use my own journey as a means to help you discover what would be suitable to you, and anyone else who is experiencing a similar challenge.

3 steps to discovering what exercises will work best for you.

Step 1. What do you enjoy doing? This is a very important first step along the journey. Those who know what they enjoy doing, will have a lot more success with exercise, and make time and effort to do what they need to do, on a weekly basis. We always make a lot more effort to get things done when we enjoy them. Therefore, I would like you to ask yourself, what it actually is that’s enjoyable for you? What is something that makes you quite happy to do and are willing to get up early in the morning or stay up late in order to do it.

Step 2: What are your goals? What are you hoping to achieve as a result of taking on this exercise/s? Is it fat loss, athleticism, strength or gaining muscle mass?

Step 3: Is this something you can do now, and long term? This is very important, as you want to be able to start your journey straight away and continue to do so as time and age permits. If you suddenly have to stop doing the thing you enjoy due to age, it’s going to cause some distress. For example, extreme sports of time kind, or intense body building. Sometimes we can find a happy medium that’s less intense, such as training in the gym with moderate weights, instead of the back-breaking kind.

For me, I always enjoyed the gym, especially weight training, therefore, it was easy for me to decide on this. The next step was to learn all about this with self-education and hiring a trainer (as well as having a mentor) Over time, you accumulate knowledge on this, and become your own PT (plus I did get training). This is just one of the many journey’s people can take.

Once that’s complete, and you decide perhaps that weight training is something you may enjoy, let’s look at a few variables that must be considered.

6 step plan when starting your weight training journey

  1. Which exercises should you pick? I would recommend using multi joint exercises to their full potential. The reason why I always talk about them is because these motions have a greater carryover to daily life and target the largest amount of muscle at a time. Some examples are squats, lunges, leg press, step ups, chest presses, rows, pull ups, deadlifts and overhead presses.
    Take 1 push and 1 pull alternative and combine them one after the other to create a superset exercise, with no rest in between. For examples, bench press is one exercise, followed by a seated row exercise. After the second exercise, you rest for 60 seconds, and start again, doing a total of 3–4 sets of each.
  2. How regularly do you need to train? To get the best results, studies have shown that 3–4 times a week is sufficient for getting results. Start off with 2 days per week, and slowly increase as you recover better and become a lot stronger.
  3. How long should the sessions be? They should be a full hour, including warm up and cool down. Warm up and cool down should be about 10 minutes each. You can warm up by lifting lighter weight or by walking on the treadmill to get things moving. Cool down should be a foam rolling or stretching session or walking on the treadmill again if you are quite sore from your training. One thing I’d like to mention is that longer workouts lead to a drop-in training intensity, where you aren’t able to perform quality of work. This increases your chance of injury and is a waste of your time too. Stick with a warmup, use 5–6 exercises and then cool down. That’s more than enough, even for us experienced trainers.
  4. The intensity of your session. Intensity depends on the person. Since you are starting out, you can familiarise yourself with movements by using body weight, or perhaps adding some plates to the bar. As you become accustomed to the weight, then you will need to add more in order to continuously progress with your training. That means, get stronger, leaner and shapelier.
  5. How many sets and reps? When you start off, 2–3 sets are fine in a workout, if that includes 6 exercises. The more experienced you become, making it up to the recommended sets of 5 will help you progress a lot more.
    Rest periods depend on the type of training you are doing. When you are going a lot heavier to build strength, then 2–3 minutes rest is idea. For fat burning, 60 seconds is more than enough. The shorter the rest period, the more metabolic stress you will trigger, that increases lean tissue and fat burn.
  6. Recovery period. Always make time to prepare your high-quality meals, stress reduction as well as enough sleep per night. These are all key in recovery and allowing changes to take place in your body. It’s not only about the change of shape you will experience, but your increase in better health and quality of life as a result of exercise.

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